The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the law license of a longtime East Troy attorney for 60 days, mostly for inadequate communication with two former clients.
The court also ruled that Patrick J. Hudec, 64, should pay the $4,219 cost of the investigation into his conduct as well as a $9,235 outstanding judgment a client obtained against him.
Hudec, who has practiced law in Wisconsin since 1979, agreed to the suspension and the six violations of attorney regulations brought by the state Office of Lawyer Regulation.
He could not be reached for comment last week.
Three of the violations involved his representation of a woman whose mother’s estate was in probate in 2012. The court found that Hudec didn’t inform the client about the scope of his services and his advance fee in a timely manner, according to the opinion.
As the case proceeded, he failed to respond in a timely way to his client’s emails and phone calls or object to a claim brought against the estate, according to the opinion.
A year after the claim was filed, a judge granted the claimant a default judgment. Hudec appealed, but an appeals court upheld the judgment. The appeals court noted that Hudec had missed deadlines for health reasons, but they were not “excusable neglect,” according to the opinion.
In 2015, Hudec’s client hired another attorney, who gave her copies of the circuit court and appellate decisions that Hudec hadn’t given her, according to the opinion.
The three remaining violations involved a second client who hired Hudec in 2012 to bring a defamation suit against a person who had filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau against her.
Hudec missed several deadlines in the Waukesha County case, and a judge entered a default judgment against Hudec’s client, according to the opinion.
The defendant in the defamation suit countersued for costs incurred because of the missed deadlines. The defendant was awarded $3,862 in penalties against Hudec and his client as a sanction.
The judge set a conference date at which Hudec could contest the penalty, but he failed to show up. The client paid $3,862 to settle the case and hired another attorney to seek recovery from Hudec, according to the opinion.
The high court noted that Hudec’s client had obtained a $9,235 judgment against him last year, which he has not appealed or satisfied.
A referee overseeing the disciplinary proceedings recommended the suspension, saying that similar past conduct by Hudec had resulted in a private reprimand from the court and three public reprimands.
“We agree with the referee that a 60-day suspension is appropriate. Clearly, Attorney Hudec’s many previous reprimands have not impressed upon him the importance of his ethical obligations,” the 14-page unsigned opinion states.